Californians face the hard facts of power : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Pay more, light less Californians face the hard facts of power

By Marianne Lavelle

California's energy crisis, which bankrupted the state's largest utility last week, is about to reach into the wallets of its citizens. As the weather warms, Golden Staters may pay as much as 46 percent more for kilowattage. Still, no one is betting they will turn off enough lights or space out enough laundry loads to stave off what Gov. Gray Davis predicted last week would be "a real crunch."

The state's Public Utilities Commission is designing a tiered rate hike that would hit heavy power users hardest, reversing the deregulatory regime that shields consumers from rising power costs. Even Davis conceded last week that a rate hike was needed; unimpressed, Pacific Gas & Electric sought Chapter 11 protection.

What's in the fridge? There is scant experience by which to forecast such a large rate hike's impact on energy use. Cambridge Energy Research Associates predicts a 40 percent rate rise will induce savings of about 5 percent of the state's summer demand. Other experts predict still less. So state lawmakers worked feverishly last week on ways to give citizens a push. Their $1.2 billion conservation plan would give citizens rebates for buying efficient refrigerators, provide free low-power lightbulbs to the needy, and reward business for cutting energy use.

The state can expect little help or sympathy from the Bush administration. It appears poised to slash federal energy efficiency and renewable energy programs by 15 percent, or $180 million. The cut reflects the White House view–to be fleshed out by a vice presidential energy task force–that policy should focus on boosting energy supplies. California's main problem, White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey told a World Economic Forum meeting last week, is its failure to build more power plants and transmission capacity. "The view of California seems to be that electricity comes from the plug in the wall," he said.|ss=power;

-- Martin Thompson (, April 17, 2001


From what I hear Lindsey is right. The Sierra Club has such an iron grip on the state that they have successfully stopped all power development.

-- Loner (, April 18, 2001.

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